Updated on 08/22/2016 1:58PM

Engelhard widens lead in NHC Tour


Current National Handicapping Championship Tour leader Kevin Engelhard widened his margin on Sunday with an outright win in a sold out NHCQualify event on the DRF Tournaments platform. Bernard Reilly and Humberto Avalos also won NHC seats in the contest.

The full year NHC Tour uses a player’s top six scores, at least one of which must come in a live event. Outright wins are rewarded with a 25 percent points bonus, making Sunday’s score extra significant for Engelhard. In an odd twist, despite all the points he has received this year, he had only qualified once. Now that he is double-qualified for the NHC he will be competing for Tour points only.

Going into the weekend he had accrued 16,783 points overall, keeping him just in front of Joe Johnson, who sat in second with 16,616. Joe Pettit was in third with 16,405, Shawn Turner held fourth with 15,846, and former NHC Tour champ Eric Moomey was in fifth with 15,646.

Simply put, Engelhard has been crushing it on the Tour this year, with a crucial live score from Monmouth in early July and five strong online results to back that up. “I’m not afraid to go for a longshot in the right spot, but I’m also focused on being consistent and picking winners,” he said. “You can talk about math or game theory, but in the end you have to pick winners.”

That’s exactly what he did on Sunday, collecting in races 2 through 7 to build a bankroll of $131.10. His biggest collection came in Woodbine’s ninth race with the cap horse Camp Creek. From there he had a huge lead and was able to change his strategy to protect against longshot winners who might jeopardize his qualifying position. No one even got close. Reilly ended with $114.90 and Avalos came home with $98.70.

Engelhard typically does not play on Sundays. It’s an important family day for the 63-year old resident of Franklin Park, N.J., who works as a workers’ compensation manager for a law firm. But he made an exception this weekend and it paid off.

For Reilly, Sunday marked his second NHC qualification as well, both coming in NHCQualify events via DRF Tournaments. He now has five online scores and is position to make a run at finishing in the top 40 on the Tour, where he would be eligible for the contest-within-a-contest at the NHC, where the winner gets a $25,000 bonus. For Avalos, this was his first Tour score of 2016.

On Saturday, Steve Abelman and Chris Podratz won their $10,000 seats to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge in a contest that was also sold out. The two men finished close together more than $17 ahead of the third-place finisher.

Abelman collected in six of the 12 races, with his biggest hit being Souper Knight in Del Mar’s fourth, who returned $57.40 win-place combined. Podratz didn’t have that near-capper but made up the points with a huge late run, collecting in five of the last six races including True Charm ($27) in Saratoga’s 12th and place points on Decked Out ($8.40) in the anchor leg, the Del Mar Oaks.

Also on Sunday, Thomas Murphy won an entry to Gulfstream Park’s Conquer the Crown contest, to be held on opening day of Gulfstream’s Championship meeting in conjunction with the Claiming Crown. Murphy had just four collections in the 12-race event but he had Camp Creek and added $32.60 win-place combined on Mindful Chatter in Woodbine’s eighth.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge is expected to be the biggest in the eight-year history of the event, with a purse of $1 million seeming likely. Players can play at the host site, Santa Anita, or compete from BCBC satellite locations – Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, and Churchill Downs.

To check out all the DRF Tournaments leaderboards, as well as a detailed accounting of who-played-what, go to the “Leaderboards” tab on tournaments.drf.com.